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Kathakali Dancing

Cochin, Kerala, Karnataka – Woke up at 11 o’clock and the first words out of my mouth were “too many drugs.” My brain was mush from the night before and we had learned that you could take one hit and then put it out anymore in your history.

We left our room in time for lunch and just wandered around Ernakulam. We did see an absolutely horrible 1979 film called . . . something . . . starring Art Garfunkle of Simon & Garfunkle. Art you should have just stucked to playing the guitar because you are a horrible actor.

We went to dinner, then went into one of the residential sections of town to this man’s house. Mr. Devan is an Indian man who puts on a Keralan Kathakali dance exhibition on every night upon his roof terrace. Kathakali dancing is the acting out of various scenes from the Hindu religious epics. The dancing is rich in tradition, as is every facet of the event itself. There is great care put into the face makeup of the dancers and watching them being made up reminded me of seeing the actors from cats being made up. It is that intricate.

We arrived on the roof at 6:30 p.m. after handing over 50 rupees in time to see one of the dancers being made up. Once it got dark, Mr. Devan, the director and instructor gave us a lecture about Hinduism and the Kathakali dancing. Shortly thereafter, the dancing began. The only instruments being a large drum and a pair of mini cymbals. The costumes were so intricate and colorful and the dancing not half bad.  Rich leaned over to me half way through, and asked if the entire thing was improvised. Good question because sometimes it certainly looks like it. After a round of speech, we shook Mr. D’s hand and headed back to our hotel.

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